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Houston Alexander: Adrenaline Rush

UFC light heavyweight power puncher, Houston Alexander, was featured on the most recent episode of Sports Science on the Fox Sports Network. The focus of the show was to try to determine how natural adrenaline can affect punching power, and if that natural adrenaline could be reproduced using supplements.

In a nut shell, the show wanted to find out how much harder you could punch when you were angry, as opposed to calm, and if using a drug such as steroids would give you more or less velocity in your fist than natural human emotion alone.

Much like the previous episode of Sports Science featuring Fedor Emelianenko when a crash test dummy was hooked up with “force sensors” around the throat area to determine the WAMMA heavyweight champion’s choking power, another crash test dummy was used in this exercise with Alexander. Only this time the force sensors were distributed throughout the face of the dummy to measure the amount of force in the notoriously heavy handed fighters punch.

The first punch thrown by Alexander was to determine the amount of force used when his heart was functioning at a normal rate. Although the UFC veteran remained calm during the exercise, he hit the dummy with all of his force. When the verdict came back it was concluded that Houston had blasted the chin of the dummy with a blow that measured at 600 pounds of force. The strike was judged to be the equivalent being smashed in the face with a hammer at full strength.

In the second test the show wanted to determine how much of a difference in strength could occur from the use of natural human emotion alone. Alexander’s trainer, Mick Doyle, was brought in for the experiment to assist in bringing Houston to an emotional climax. His job, to make Houston as angry as possible.

Doyle pulled the powerful 205 pound octagon veteran aside and asked him to conjure up all of the feelings and emotions that he had experienced in the dressing room after his last defeat. Doyle asked Alexander to let all of the feelings of disappointment he had experienced to boil to the surface. At this point the thirty seven year old Nebraska native is visibly seething with emotion. As the light gave Alexander the go ahead to throw the strike, he unleashed a punch that looked as if it was going to completely tear away the head from the torso of the dummy.

The second, natural adrenaline filled punch, registered at 1000 pounds of force. Some 400 more pounds of force then Alexander had displayed when calm.

It was explained that the extreme burst of power found in an “adrenaline rush” stems from the bodies natural reaction to fear. When in a state of fear, our adrenal glands flood the body with natural adrenaline. Adrenaline causes your heart rate to speed up and attempt to redistribute the influx of blood to the brain and muscles. When this occurs, muscles can typically receive more than five times the normal amount of oxygenated blood which causes an extreme burst of power and speed.

During the experiment, Alexander quickly got his heart rate up to 150 beats per minute. That type of spike in the blood flow is what causes the body to produce epinephrine, or natural adrenaline.

In the third and final test the goal was to determine how synthetic adrenaline, comparable to many performance enhancing drugs, would affect the amount of force in Houston’s punch. He would be injected with a dose of epinephrine, commonly known as synthetic adrenaline, to mirror the effects of drugs such as steroids. It was explained before this test that it was the most dangerous ever conducted in the shows history, with serious consequences for the single father of six children. Worst case scenario, the test could cause Alexander to go into cardiac arrest or possibly die.

Before the shot of adrenaline, Houston was told by the doctor that all of his vital signs were completely normal, to which he replied,”Well doc, it’s time to get abnormal”, with that he was injected with 0.3 milligrams of epinephrine which caused his heart rate to jump up to 115 beats per minute. From there he was given 0.3 more milligrams of the drug which brought the grand total of epinephrine running through his veins up to 0.6 milligrams, the exact same amount given to a person to bring them out of a cardiac arrest.

Alexander’s heart rate peaked at 156 beats per minute just before his third and final punch. When thrown, the blow measured at a massive 900 pounds of force.

A 900 pound jack hammer on juice is impressive to say the least, but what is far more impressive is the fact that with nothing but natural human emotion, you could produce a blow with 100 more pounds of force than could be produced using the finest illegal drugs that money could buy.

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